NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21 – Co-Government Chief Whip George Thuo has asked Members of Parliament to focus on urgent issues affecting Kenyans as the National Assembly converges on Tuesday.
Speaking to Capital News ahead of the State Opening of the 10th Parliament’s third session, Mr Thuo said that despite the fact Parliament had to deal with reforms, the priority should be to address the massive unemployment, hunger and poverty which are the challenges facing many Kenyans.
“The new word in town is reforms, the expectations are clear; whatever you call reforms Kenyans want them to take the form of jobs for youth, and relief food for those struggling with hunger. The reforms should be in terms of providing seedlings now that the rains have begun, especially for those affected by the famine,” he said.
The Juja MP narrated in the exclusive interview that wherever he went in his constituency people had one common cry – the rising food prices.
He said it would be very unfair for Parliament to ignore the sufferings of the people by engaging in less important matters and failing to come up with policies that will resolve most outstanding issues.
Mr Thuo expressed that he also expected the Presidential Speech to set the pace in addressing direct challenges in the country.
Parliament’s resumption is further expected to realise the new Standing Orders, which Mr Thuo would start with the reconstitution of the 27 Parliamentary Committees.
“I suppose the new Standing Orders will kick off immediately, as a result of that we are reconstituting all committees, the first to be reconstituted is the House Business Committee (HBC),” he explained.
HBC is the committee that sets the agenda for Parliament.
Under the new Standing Orders there will also be the Prime Minister’s question time of 45 minutes. The Leader of Government Business has also been allocated time every Thursday to give an indication of the following week’s order of business.
Mr Thuo highlighted other changes that will see new broadcast rules implemented and the media will have the benefit of covering committee proceedings unlike before.
The new orders will also allow women MPs to carry their handbags into the chamber.
During this session, MPs will be expected to approve the national budget which comes against the backdrop of tough economic times.
Amid sentiment that the budget be trimmed, the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Housing, Labour and Social Welfare has also vowed to lobby MPs not to approve the budgets of Ministries that are thought to be duplicated, for instance the Public Health and Medical Services Ministries.
MPs are also likely to pass a Bill seeking to have Parliament determine the number of Ministries in future, to help cut down costs.
The reform agenda, which includes the constitution and among others land distribution, will also be of immediate consideration.
Other pending issues in the legislative agenda include the Parliamentary Opposition Bill 2008 and the Fiscal Management Bill.
The Akiwumi Tribunal appointed to review the terms and conditions of service of MPs and employees of the National Assembly will give its report.
After the presidential address on Tuesday afternoon, the Leader of Government Business and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka is expected to give a notice of motion to adopt the presidential address, which will be debated in the consecutive sessions not exceeding four sittings.
The House will then adjourn for a reception.